ABOVE: Toronto Police say they don’t have the authority to release Ford video. Alan Carter reports.
TORONTO –Mayor Rob Ford wants a video of himself purportedly smoking crack cocaine made public immediately. The Chief of the Toronto Police Service says the law forbids him from releasing the video.
That may not be entirely correct: It’s probably prudence, rather than law, that keeps him from publishing it.
“There’s no actual legal impediment to the police releasing the video in the sense of any criminal law that says they can’t,” said lawyer Paul Burstein. “The only concern would be whether it would either libel or slander the people in the video or alternatively prejudice Mr. Lisi’s fair trial rights.”
And the mayor, who appears in the alleged video, is calling for its release.
“So there’s no issue there,” Burstein said.
Blair described the mayor’s behaviour in the video as “consistent with those that had been previously reported in the press.”
Reporters for Gawker and the Toronto Star reported in May they had watched the video inside a car in Etobicoke. Their reports say the video shows the mayor smoking what might be crack cocaine while making racist and homophobic remarks.
Police Chief Bill Blair said Thursday it’s “safe to say the mayor does appear in the video.”
Lisi, a friend and occasional driver of the mayor, is charged with extortion in connection with the video. Police allege Lisi threatened two young men into giving him the video.
The mayor has repeatedly called on the police chief to release the video but police have so far refused.
ABOVE: In an interview on AM640, Mayor Rob Ford demands the video be released.
Attorney General John Gerretsen did not shed any light on the matter while fielding questions from reporters at Queen’s Park Monday.
“I’m not going to get involved in that. I assume that the chief has good reason, in the ongoing investigation, to do whatever he is doing at this time,” he said, adding that his office had not been in contact with the police regarding the investigation.
Jonathon Rosenthal, a Toronto-based defence lawyer, said Blair is right not to release the video.
“I don’t think there’s any legal basis that the chief could possibly release the video at this time.”
Rosenthal explains that the video was seized with a search warrant as part of an investigation. Releasing the video before the trial would jeopardize possible prosecution while also raising privacy issues.
“The video was seized pursuant to a search warrant. There’d be privacy interests involved in the issue of whose computer it was. I think if he released it at this time he could seriously jeopardize the prosecution of these people.”
– With files from Alan Carter and Christina Stevens